you guys might have realized from the lack of gorgeous photos and recipe posts that i'm not huge into cooking. i've never really been into it - i'm not a foodie, and i'd much rather spend the time it takes to cook something fancy to sew something fancy instead! this has changed a bit, as i've gotten older, i find a lot of pleasure in feeding the people i care about, and i'm branching out, bit by bit.
however, i do still tend to be a bit of a one-hit-wonder! i find something that i'm good at making, and i make it for every event. for years now, my thing has been cupcakes. long before they got so cool, i was making cupcakes. people raved about them, so i brought them everywhere. i always knew that they'd turn out, they were perfect for potlucks because they're individual servings, and you can make them fun with coloured icing and sprinkles and candy toppings.
the part that i always thought was funny was that they were just cake mix cupcakes! i was picky about what i used - good quality mixes, either vanilla or lemon, and a specific no-name brand of vanilla icing that is a bit less sugary sweet than most (western family, if you're local), but still. they're cupcakes from a mix! anyone can make them!
except that apparently not everyone can. i've had some really really bad cake mix cupcakes.... and i've realized a few things about why other people's cupcakes don't turn out. they're little things, but maybe they'll help you?
the first thing is, don't mix the hell out of the batter. mix it just enough to combine the ingredients. this came out of laziness on my part - i never felt like mixing for as long as the box called for! but overmixing can make a big difference in the toughness of your batter. i'm sure there's a scientific explanation in regards to how much air is incorporated into it when you over mix, but i don't know. i just know that lazy mixing has served me well!
and the other important thing is to ice them right away. if you don't have time before bedtime to let them cool and ice them, put the tray in the fridge for a little while. it'll cool them, and firm them up a little bit, so the edges won't break off into your icing. the icing keeps the cupcakes from drying out overnight, so they'll be super moist the next day. (also, the icing spreads better if it's a yeensy bit warm, so i carefully remove all the foil from the little cup and nuke it for a few seconds. it's easier to mix in the food colouring consistently too))
if you really really don't have time, cover the cupcakes with a tea towel overnight. but really, icing them the night before you need them is always better, because it gives the icing a chance to harden up a bit as well.
and that's pretty much it! easy-peasy cupcakes.
i realize that this isn't the most visually appealing post, so how about some pictures of past cupcake inspired craftiness?
made in february 2009
made in december 2009
made in december 2008
told ya i liked cupcakes!